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McBeath Gaelic Medical Manuscript, 16th century

Identifier: La.III.21
McBeath Gaelic Medical Manuscript (selected pages)
McBeath Gaelic Medical Manuscript (selected pages)

Scope and Contents

Dating from the 16th-century, it is a medical manuscript, in Gaelic and Latin. It was owned by the family of McBeath (also known as Bethunes or Beatons) who were for many generations physicians of repute in the West Highlands, particularly in Mull and Islay. On pages 189-190 there is a carefully prepared family tree. In the Gaelic world basic medical texts were available in the vernacular, whereas Latin remained the language of medical learning in the rest of Scotland. This manuscript shows close ties with Irish book-making traditions, particularly in the decoration. One of the more elaborate treatises treats of the colour of urine as an indication and symptom of disease.
Pencil note by Mr.Laing as 'A Gaelic MS. On vellum, square 8vo'. The bulk of the writing is in the Irish character : at the end are some writings in a later hand in English, and treating of astrology.


  • 16th century

Language of Materials

Partly also in Latin

Conditions Governing Access

Contact the repository for details


1 bound MS volume

Custodial History

Purchased by David Laing in Edinburgh in 1835.


Mackinnon, Donald (1912). A descriptive catalogue of Gaelic manuscripts in the Advocates' library, Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Scotland, Appendix II, section I, no. 1, pp. 283-286. (accessed 18 October 2021).

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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